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September 01, 2008 

Day 5 of Roth Trial Concludes With Testimony by Defendant

Day five of the trial of University of Professor Emeritus J. Reece Roth concluded on Friday after Professor Roth took the stand to defend himself of violating the Arms Export Control Act by knowingly providing controlled technical data to a Chinese national in the U.S. and by exporting such data to China.

Following Professor Roth's testimony the defense rested its case and the judge set the closing arguments for Tuesday morning. The jury will begin its deliberations after receiving instructions from judge.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, during his testimony Roth said:

"he had no idea that the work then-graduate student Xin Dai did on the Air Force contract came under the auspices of the export control act."

"My understanding of the export control process at the beginning of all this was it applied to hardware such as bombs … that should not fall into enemy hands," he testified. "I knew if our research worked, it would probably end up being either classified or under export controls, but I also believed our basic research would be unclassified."

Roth acknowledged that he crafted a plan to divide labor between Xin and American graduate student Truman Bonds because of concerns over export control.

"It was certainly my intent to keep anything that was or might become export control in the hands of a U.S. citizen," Roth said.

That plan was later largely abandoned when AGT began allowing Bonds to share reports on his work with Xin, a move Roth said he had advocated from the start.

The article notes that "Roth verbally jousted with Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Mackie in more than two hours of cross-examination, repeatedly insisting that he did not knowingly violate the export control act."

The article also indicates that Roth "took issue with the law itself, arguing that, if federal prosecutors are correct in their assessment that the export control act covers research on munitions projects, academic freedom would suffer." "I do think academic research is going to be impacted by the results of this probe," Roth said. He also noted that "It would make it virtually impossible for scholars to take their laptops out of the United States. … The law should be re-examined by Congress, perhaps."

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